Mr. Chief Justice, my dear friends, my fellow Americans:
The oath that I have taken is the same oath that was taken by George
Washington and by every President under the Constitution. But I assume
the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances never before experienced
by Americans. This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts
Therefore, I feel it is my first duty to make an unprecedented compact
with my countrymen. Not an inaugural address, not a fireside chat, not
a campaign speech--just a little straight talk among friends. And I intend
it to be the first of many.
I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President
by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your President with
your prayers. And I hope that such prayers will also be the first of many.
If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained
office by any secret promises. I have not campaigned either for the Presidency
or the Vice Presidency. I have not subscribed to any partisan platform.
I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman--my dear wife--as I begin
this very difficult job.
I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk
it. Those who nominated and confirmed me as Vice President were my friends
and are my friends. They were of both parties, elected by all the people
and acting under the Constitution in their name. It is only fitting then
that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the President of
all the people.
Thomas Jefferson said the people are the only sure reliance for the
preservation of our liberty. And down the years, Abraham Lincoln renewed
this American article of faith asking, "Is there any better way or
equal hope in the world?"
I intend, on Monday next, to request of the Speaker of the House
of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate the privilege
of appearing before the Congress to share with my former colleagues and
with you, the American people, my views on the priority business of the
Nation and to solicit your views and their views. And may I say to the
Speaker and the others, if I could meet with you right after these remarks,
I would appreciate it.
Even though this is late in an election year, there is no way we
can go forward except together and no way anybody can win except by serving
the people's urgent needs. We cannot stand still or slip backwards. We
must go forward now together.
To the peoples and the governments of all friendly nations, and I
hope that could encompass the whole world, I pledge an uninterrupted and
sincere search for peace. America will remain strong and united, but its
strength will remain dedicated to the safety and sanity of the entire family
of man, as well as to our own precious freedom.
I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together,
not only our Government but civilization itself. That bond, though strained,
is unbroken at home and abroad.
In all my public and private acts as your President, I expect to
follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty
is always the best policy in the end.
My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.
Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws
and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever
name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only
justice but mercy.
As we bind up the internal wounds of Watergate, more painful and
more poisonous than those of foreign wars, let us restore the golden rule
to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion
and of hate.
In the beginning, I asked you to pray for me. Before closing, I ask
again your prayers, for Richard Nixon and for his family. May our former
President, who brought peace to millions, find it for himself. May God
bless and comfort his wonderful wife and daughters, whose love and loyalty
will forever be a shining legacy to all who bear the lonely burdens of
the White House.
I can only guess at those burdens, although I have witnessed at close
hand the tragedies that befell three Presidents and the lesser trials of
With all the strength and all the good sense I have gained from life,
with all the confidence my family, my friends, and my dedicated staff impart
to me, and with the good will of countless Americans I have encountered
in recent visits to 40 States, I now solemnly reaffirm my promise I made
to you last December 6: to uphold the Constitution, to do what is right
as God gives me to see the right, and to do the very best I can for America.
God helping me, I will not let you down. Thank you.
President Gerald R. Ford - August 9, 1974